The late November session was rare – but the fireworks on the floor of the Assembly were not. Republicans blocked passage of a 17 billion dollar Democratic plan. It would have cut spending - largely to education – and tripled the vehicle license fee – commonly called the car tax. Battle lines between Democrats and Republicans were crystal clear.
There was frustration from Democrat Mike Feuer:
"As I’ve listened to our republican friends today, I have to say it’s hard to resist the urge to want to shake people by the lapels and say, don’t you get it?”
And an “I told you so” from Republican Rick Keene:
“The fact of the matter is, when we had good revenues, we begged you to put aside money for a rainy day. We told you a rainy day was coming and it’s raining.”
And this line from Republican Mike Duvall:
“The only turkeys in this state tomorrow and Thursday are us.”
Governor Schwarzenegger might agree with that one. He made an unusual appearance outside of his office just moments after the package was rejected by both houses. He called the session a total failure:
“So you could see it’s like a kindergarten up there, where they point their fingers at each other – I told you this, I told you that and all those kinds of things. And we always told you we spent too much money, and we always told you we don’t have enough money and all those things, they did not live up to the challenge.”
The Governor said he would not have signed the package – even if it had passed, because it didn’t include an economic stimulus plan. Schwarzenegger says he’ll now call a fiscal emergency. That requires lawmakers to once again gather in a special session to address the budget shortfall that’s expected to top 28 billion over the next 19 months. The state could also run out of cash as early as February. Democratic leaders said they were disappointed the proposal failed – Republican leaders said it’s not time to focus on an economic stimulus plan. Legislative leaders planned to be back to work Sunday. Monday a new legislature arrives to begin tackling the problem again.